As a literary manager I have to make sure a project is as good as it can be before I send it off to agents and producers. This means that I work one-on-one with the screenwriter or novelist to get it in top-notch condition. The expectation is that they would have done their job first by learning everything they need to know about their craft. But what if you’re just starting out or need a refresher course? Below, I’m providing what I consider to be the four best books on writing.
Bird by Bird — Anne Lamott
Sometimes you need a healthy dose of common sense along with your writing instruction. Anne Lamott provides words of wisdom that are like receiving a giant hug.
By far my favorite book on screenwriting. The late and great Blake Snyder defined the “beats” of a screenplay in this book and also gives concrete examples of his process by referring to popular films.
How to Write a Movie in 21 Days — Viki King
You won’t actually have a perfect screenplay in 21 days, but you will have an exceptional outline and roadmap. King provides a brilliant process for getting you on your way fast.
How to Write a Damn Good Novel — James N. Frey
Provides definitive guidance for the elements of writing a novel. Frey, who has also taught writing at U.C. Berkeley, explains the nuts and bolts of what goes into making a novel not just good, but great.